November 22, 2021
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way (Matthew 22:18-22).
The money presented to Jesus by the Pharisees was a Roman coin. The tax for the temple service was usually paid by a Jewish shekel. The tax for the Roman government was usually paid by a foreign coin. The fact that the Pharisees had that coin with them, and used it, was proof that they believed it was lawful to pay the tax to Caesar, making their status as ‘holy’ priests pretentious and hypocritical.
When you take a bird’s eye view of the Old Testament priesthood, with few exceptions, you will find they were corrupt, self-serving people pleasers. In fact, most of them led the Israelites away from God and into idolatry. The very first priest, Aaron, Moses’ brother, bowed to the wishes of the Israelites and fashioned a golden calf for them to worship. (Exodus 32:21-24) And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?" So Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out." Incredible. Unbelievable. This is a priest appointed by God.
I went to college with a few guys whose purpose for going into ministry was anything but serving the Lord. “What better job to have than to get paid for working one day a week.” “I have no skills to do anything else, so I thought I would train for the ministry.” These are actual words of real men who studied for the ministry with me. You hear of, read about, maybe even experience it firsthand, those who are like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes, who desire the office of pastor, priest, etc. for the honor, the power, the money.
But Jesus knows the heart. Jesus perceived their wickedness and responded in a way that foiled their attempt to trap Him and instead trapped them. "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?” You don’t have to be blatantly corrupt to be a hypocrite, but even today the sins of the minister are ‘in your face’. Google search some of the more public ‘preachers’. It’s a real eye-opener.
“Lord Jesus, forgive us for cheapening the call to ministry and corrupting the office of minister by our own self interests. You know the heart. You see the ministry, and the abuse brought to it. Your heart must grieve over this. I ask Your Holy Spirit to convict me of any attitude or action that brings shame to Your name or to the office of Christian ministry. My desire has always been to honor and serve You through the calling You have extended to me. Amen.”